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European cooperation on Nuclear Safety

European cooperation on Nuclear Safety European cooperation on Nuclear SafetyOn the European level BfE experts in the field of nuclear safety support e.g. Germany's information requirement concerning planned releases of radioactive material pursuant to Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty, the German input in the improvement of nuclear saftey at ENSREG and the development of Safety Reference Levels of WENRA.

Obligations under nuclear law result for the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) from the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community – Eutatom. The basic EU regulations concerning the safety of nuclear installations and radioactive waste management have been regulated in EU directives:

EURATOM Treaty

The Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom Treaty) was concluded on 25 March 1957. It is one of the "Roman Treaties" that form the historical basis for today's European Union (EU).

For the EU member states, the Euratom Treaty also results in obligations, e.g. the information requirement pursuant to Article 37.

Information requirement for planned discharges of radioactive material – Article 37 Euratom Treaty

Due to the discharge of radioactive material (e.g. by emission of exhaust air and waste water and discharge of solid radioactive waste in normal operation), nuclear installations may also have effects on neighbouring countries. Pursuant to Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty, each member state is obliged to inform the European Commission about planned licences for the discharge of radioactive material. On the basis of general data also comprising information about considered incidents and accidents, the Commission examines whether the planned licence may cause a radioactive contamination of another member state's

  • water,
  • soil or
  • air.

Usually, the report on general data is generated by the applicant (operator). The Commission submits a comment based on the general data. Only then may the competent authority of the member state grant the licence. The Commission’s comments are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The Commission published the Recommendation 2010/635/Euratom of 11 October 2010 on the application of Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty which specifies the general data be submitted.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit - BMUB) submits the general data to the Commission. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) had supported the BMUB since 1999 in the examination and co-ordination of the required reports on the "General Information". On 30 July 2016, the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) took over this task.

Concluded and ongoing procedures of Germany pursuant to Article 37 Euratom

From the beginning of 1999 until the end of 2015, altogether 38 procedures under Article 37 Euratom for installations in Germany were concluded, each one with positive comments.

In 2002 and 2003, these procedures were also carried out for decentralised interim storage facilities on the nuclear power plant sites.

More procedures under Article 37 Euratom for the dismantling of nuclear power plants are necessary in the future.

ENSREG – European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group

The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) advises and supports the Commission of the European Union (EU) in issues relating to the safety of nuclear installations and to the safe disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste. Senior members of the nuclear authorities from all EU member states are represented in ENSREG. ENSREG facilitates the co-ordination and co-operation between the national regulatory authorities.

Important items in the ENSREG work programme are:

  • The continuous improvement of nuclear safety and promotion of international cooperation,
  • The ongoing optimisation of radioactive waste management and programmes for decommissioning and disposal of spent fuel, and
  • Enhanced openness and transparency.

The BfE particularly supports the German input in the continuous improvement of nuclear safety, e.g. in the thematical Peer Review, which will be performed for the first time in the year 2017.

WENRA – Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association

The Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association (WENRA) was founded in 1999 as body of European supervisory and licensing authorities. In the WENRA, the states of the European Union at that time could discuss their position in terms of safety of nuclear power plants in applicant states from Eastern and Central Europe and develop a common position. Today WENRA sees itself as a network of independent European supervisory authorities. As opposed to ENSREG, WENRA is no advisory body for the European Union.

In WENRA, two main working groups have been established:

In the WENRA member states there are different approaches as to the national implementation and guarantee of nuclear safety. The two main WENRA working groups should help to continuously reduce the differences between the nuclear rules and regulations of the states. For example, the WENRA-RHWG has developed so-called WENRA Safety Reference Levels. These consist of a number of basic requirements for different safety-relevant topics. Against the background of the findings gained from the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, these requirements were updated and published in September 2014 (Report - WENRA Safety Reference Levels for Existing Reactors). The BfS took part in the development of a new requirement for generic natural events such as earthquakes or floods ("Issue T").

State of 2016.10.28

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